Why a good fluff post can boost your blog’s traffic + engagement without sacrificing quality

By Brittany Taylor

Why a good fluff post can boost your blog's traffic + engagement without sacrificing quality

Oct. 31, 2016 

A good fluff post is like a handful of Double Stuf Oreos plucked from a freshly opened box: delicious, full stop.

Fluff is extra—extra good, but still extraneous. It’s not the meal; it’s the dessert.

We don’t need fluff to survive, but that doesn’t prevent us from seeking it out. We still grab the extra pillow from the housekeepers’ cart in the hall when nobody’s looking. We still stand in a 32-person-long line to buy a cone of spun sugar.

Whole companies stay in business thanks to fluff. Look at Buzzfeed! Ban.do! The majority of Target!

Ready for the truth about fluff? Readers like it. They want it. They crave it.

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And guys? That’s fine. That’s totally OK. The Internet likes to collectively shame readers for clicking on fluff posts and writers for creating them and publishers for distributing them, but the blanket shaming of fluff is a total sham.

The truth is that there are good fluff blog posts and bad fluff blog posts. You only want the good kind on your blog…but how do you tell good from bad? How do you keep the bad from creeping in?

That’s what I’m showing you today.

This post will guide you through the good and bad of fluff blogging, and show you how to write a post that makes your audience think, “This is hysterical and fun and ____. I need to share this with every single person I know, right now.”

What is a fluff post?

A fluff post is a non-instructional blog post. Its primary goal is entertainment.

Now, that statement up there, that last one? It doesn’t mean that a fluff post can’t teach you something. It doesn’t mean that it can’t inspire you to do something good or to become a better person or lover or boss. It just means that you reading the post and then doing something because of it isn’t the first goal the writer had in mind when they wrote the darn thing.

And that’s OK.

Topics + themes

Just like movies, there are genres of fluff posts: romances that make you feel warm and fuzzy, comedies that make you laugh, dramas that bespeak hard truths, horrors that freak you out, sci-fis that make you consider unusual possibilities, actions that excite you. You can write a fluff post on just about anything.

I do, however, caution you to take care with sensitive and serious subject matter. You don’t want to laugh off a delicate or controversial topic, or turn a tragedy into a post that’s meant to be lighthearted and traffic-driving.

A rule to remember: If you’re not sure if you should do it, don’t. Or, at the very least, ask someone you trust to give it to you straight for a second opinion.

Formats + lengths

Fluff posts come in all shapes and sizes. They can be lists (listicles in media-speak), diary entries, editorials, quizzes, or standard, paragraph-by-paragraph blog posts. They can be hundreds or thousands of words long. They can be stand-alone posts or parts of a series.

When you’re writing a fluff post, ask yourself these two questions:

  • What's the best format that will achieve my goal and tell the story I want to tell?
  • How long does it need to be to make it the very best post of its kind?

What’s the big difference between good fluff and bad fluff?

Good fluff makes you feel something. Bad fluff is the "meh" of content.

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Human beings are motivated almost entirely by feelings. Emotions are our drivers. Shiny, delectable, addictive fluff tugs on those emotions. It makes us bookmark and Pin and comment and share.

Why bad fluff has a bad rep

Fluff has achieved a bad reputation for being worthless piles of sparkly shit.

You can blame the bad and lazy and superficial writers, editors, and publishers for that, because it’s mostly true: most fluff is shit. Some of it is so God-awful that it doesn’t even sparkle. Instead, it just sits there. It fulfills a quota, but it doesn’t do much else

Bad fluff earns its bad reputation--and tarnishes the rep of good fluff--because it disappoints readers.

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The majority of clickbait is bad fluff. You go in expecting one awesome thing and click the back button because the website didn’t deliver on the promise of its headline. Insert a big, deep, “the grocery store is out of triple chocolate cookie dough again” sigh.

Why good fluff is still worth writing

Good fluff touches readers' emotions. It makes them want to do something with what they've read.

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Good fluff is an audience engagement goldmine.

That could be commenting, it could be sharing on social media, it could be subscribing to your newsletter or reading more blog posts you’ve written. Your readers could binge watch Firefly because you laid out exactly how it applies to small business and then send you a thank-you card telling you how much you rock. They could tell their friends about your post over lunch. They could link to it in one of their blog posts.

There are scads of things your readers could do to help your blog post along in its little fledgling life. All of these things add up to:

  1. A surge in website traffic
  2. A boost in newsletter subscriptions
  3. An increase in the quality of your traffic analytics, like longer time-on-page and higher pages-per-visit stats.
  4. A word-of-mouth reputation that you can’t pay for
  5. More eyes and ears reading and listening to whatever it is you do next
  6. More people interested in paying money to get more from you
  7. More clients booking out your calendar
  8. More leads begging you for products

Fluff is particularly well-suited to achieving this long list of hell-yes-I-want-that happenings.

Why? Because of the inherent emotion and personality (and personal stories). A dose of pop culture—ahem, a mutual enjoyment of our shared human interests—always helps, too.

These three things (emotion, personality and stories, and pop culture references) make your content stand out from others in your niche.

“Standing out” is code for becoming memorable. Suddenly, you’re not one of 15 blogs creating how-to-write-blog-posts blog posts. Instead, you’re the chick with a Harry Potter obsession who wrote that hysterical post on how Hermione Granger is basically the bad-ass boss you wish you were in high school.

Or something like that, anyway.

How to fit fluff posts into your content strategy

So “10 signs you’re basically Hermione Granger, but with a laptop and an online business” doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of your blog content, eh?

I know. It doesn’t fit into mine, either. The Ravenclaw within me is upset about that.

What you don’t want to do is go off on a fluffy tangent every other month. If you’re not “10 Deatheaters” this and “5 spells you could pull off” that, don’t go in that direction. Seriously, don’t.

Listen when I say this: For fluff to fit into your content strategy, it needs to maintain the quality demonstrated by your other blog posts.

Fluff posts aren't empty calories. They have to be just as good as the rest of your content.

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One major “don’t”: Don’t look at fluff as a throwaway post

That’s how you get a “go straight to jail” card from the fluff post gods. Look at fluff as another tool in your blogging arsenal that can help you connect with your audience in a more personal way than you usually do.

Here are a few different ways to begin incorporating fluff into the rest of your content:

  1. Back into it. Use examples in your regular posts that are a bit fluffier than usual. Try drawing from pop culture references or personal experiences.
  2. Add a fluffy spin to a normal-for-you post. Think along the lines of “The pros and cons of WordPress, Squarespace, Blogger, and Wix (with a little help from Hogwarts’ houses)” and “5 tactics for writing an Instagram bio (like your favorite Friends friend).”
  3. Go full-on fluff…but make it a “whoa, this is epic!” post, just like all your other posts. Shoot for big numbers that’ll make people wonder how the heck you came up with so many things to say about X, oodles of graphics and illustrations, thematic GIFs, explanatory videos or SlideShares—you know, big, good, shareworthy stuff that stands out purely because it’s so big and good.

One major “do”: Use fluff posts to further your message, not as a side note

Just because a fluff post’s primary goal is to entertain readers doesn’t mean that that’s it’s only goal.

You can use fluff posts to bring your point of view to more people. Use the theme, the content itself, the personal stories and pop culture references to help you do that. Show a soft side, but a side that is still business-oriented.

You got this, boss!

How to brainstorm fluff posts for your blog

If you’re not writing fluff posts right now, I know they sound like a totally different animal. But as long as you’re brainstorming, writing, and publishing quality content right this second, a fluff post isn’t a new thing you have to master; it’s just a tweak on the basics.

Every good thing starts with a brainstorm. Get your brainstorming process right + you're golden.

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That’s why I created the Blog Ideas Workbook

It’s a simple process you can follow step-by-step to brainstorm blog posts in just 10 minutes each month—and you can get started right now, for free.

Do this: Fill out the form below, hit the button, and your workbook will be on its way to your inbox. If you don’t see it in the next 24 hours, shoot me an email at Brittany@seebrittwrite.com and I’ll send it to you myself.

What if you could brainstorm all the content ideas you need for an entire month in just 10 minutes? The Blog Ideas Workbook from SeeBrittWrite.com makes it happen

You're 10 minutes away from your most productive brainstorming session ever.

How dreamy does that sound? The Blog Ideas Workbook walks you through a simple process for brainstorming blog post + content upgrades ideas in the time it takes you to walk into Starbucks and walk back out with your latte.

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